Top 10 TV Grandmothers

Script Written by Niki Neptune. These aren’t your momma’s grandmothers. Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our picks for the top 10 TV grandmothers. For this list, we’re looking at small screen grandmothers that didn’t let a little old age temper their personalities. Far from blue-haired, little old ladies, these TV grandmas pack a punch, along with some occasional sage advice. These matriarchs may’ve even traded in the butterscotch candies and support hose for early morning martinis, and maybe even a gentleman suitor. Special thanks to our users sarahjessicaparkerth, jkellis, LJL80897, Josh3000, Matatertot and David Ram for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script Written by Niki Neptune.

Top 10 TV Grandmothers


These aren’t your momma’s grandmothers. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 TV grandmothers.

For this list, we’re looking at small screen grandmothers that didn’t let a little old age temper their personalities. Far from blue-haired, little old ladies, these TV grandmas pack a punch, along with some occasional sage advice. These matriarchs may’ve even traded in the butterscotch candies and support hose for early morning martinis, and maybe even a gentleman suitor.

#10: Martha Rodgers
“Castle” (2009-)

Far from the domestic type, you wouldn’t catch this feisty grandmother sitting at home baking cookies. And while she lives with her son and granddaughter, she maintains quite the active social life, if you catch our drift. As a former Broadway star, she’s no stranger to drama, which makes her a valuable asset to her novelist son. And since she’s apparently had quite a bit of romantic experience in the past and definitely in the present, Martha’s advice is oftentimes more sound than you’d expect. She just wants her son to be great. Oh, and to have a little fun herself.

#9: Estelle Winslow
“Family Matters” (1989-98)

Between her thick glasses, sweet smile, and grandma bangs, you couldn’t help but want to get a hug while being rocked to sleep by this grandma. Based on first impressions, at least. But upon further inspection, and maybe after a few nuggets of wisdom, you may realize that this particular matriarch isn’t one to be trifled with. Fiercely protective of her grandchildren, and even Steve Urkel – the Winslow’s annoying and nerdy neighbor – Estelle could switch from comforting grandma to savvy socialite at the drop of a hat. Her charms weren’t lost on the gentlemen, either.

#8: Beverly Lorraine Harris & Nana Mary
“Roseanne” (1988-97)

These two ladies occupied the opposite side of the grandma spectrum. While Grandma Bev, Roseanne’s mother, is strict, hyper-critical, and fairly insufferable, Nana Mary, Roseanne’s grandmother, is a hard-partying fun-time gal. You’d think having a grandmother and a great-grandmother around the house would make the “Roseanne” household kind of tame. But when one claims her persona is an act and the other has a tendency to lose her pants after a wild night out, it’s safe to say that anything goes with these two.

#7: Mona Robinson
“Who’s the Boss?” (1984-92)

You can call this hot-blooded grandmother a number of things, but demure ain’t one of them. Never one to shy away from being a little daring, Mrs. Robinson seemed to often have a singular focus, which was of the… adult variety. While Mona lived with her family, she was never at a loss for extracurricular activities. You’d be just as likely to see her traipsing around in a bikini as you would be to witness her saying something inappropriate. Needless to say, she’s the kind of grandma you want to have around, at least if you want a laugh.

#6: Ethyl Phillips
“Dinosaurs” (1991-94)

As far as ancient dinosaurs go, this wheelchair-bound one was a bit on the cranky side. You probably would be too if you couldn’t stand your son-in-law and could literally be hurled to your death at any moment. So, this particular grandma wasn’t of the sweet variety. By all accounts, Ethyl Phillips was pretty dour and a little mean, but that’s probably why we liked her so much. She may not have been the nicest prehistoric grandma, but she definitely left an impression, even if it was just with her cane.

#5: Evelyn Harper
“Two and a Half Men” (2003-)

She’s at least partially responsible for bringing Charlie Harper into the world, which could be considered a good or bad thing, depending on who you ask. Just watching this particular grandma in action, you can sort of see why her sons turned out the way they did and even more so, why they refer to her as “Satan.” Obviously, not everyone has a saccharine sweet relationship with their family, but we certainly don’t expect most grandmothers to be compared to the Prince of Darkness. But with Evelyn Harper, we can totally see it.

#4: Marie Barone
“Everybody Loves Raymond” (1996-2005)

One could argue that no one loved Raymond more than his mother, even if that love was a little overbearing and heavy-handed, and maybe even manipulative at times. If anything, Mrs. Barone gave us a glimpse at a professional grandmother in action. She knew how to get what she wanted from her kids, while simultaneously playing on the sympathy of her family. Clearly, she wasn’t new to the whole grandparenting thing. Now, whether or not she did a good job is an entirely different story.

#3: Thelma ‘Mama’ Harper
“Mama’s Family” (1983-84)

There’s really nothing strange about a headstrong grandmother who serves as the matriarch of a household. That’s almost par for the course in pop culture. What might be a little unconventional about this particular grandmother is that she never ceases to get into any number of wild escapades. Surrounded by her family members, who seem equally as prone to random adventures, Mama knows exactly how to navigate almost any circumstance with a sarcastic remark and a witty comeback. Don’t let the silvery blue hair fool you: Thelma Harper is a force to be reckoned with.

#2: Violet Crawley
“Downton Abbey” (2010-)

When you hear the words “Dowager Duchess”, it’s likely that your mind will conjure up an image of Maggie Smith with a huge hat and a disapproving scowl. And in this particular instance, you’d be 100% correct. As the Crawley family matriarch, this stern grandmother is fiercely protective of her family’s good name. And it shows. She may not have been fond of her American daughter-in-law, but she seems to be consumed with the well being of her granddaughters, their marriages or lack thereof, and her family’s legacy. It’s almost a full-time job for her.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- Lorraine Saracen
“Friday Night Lights” (2006-11)
- Emily Gilmore
“Gilmore Girls” (2000-07)
- Livia Soprano
“The Sopranos” (1999-2007)
- Mona Simpson
“The Simpsons” (1989-)
- Adele Stackhouse
“True Blood” (2008-)

#1: Lucille Bluth
“Arrested Development” (2003-06, 2013-)

This gin-soaked granny may’ve been part of the elite class, but her behavior is anything but morally sound. Emotionally abusive and highly manipulative, Lucille Bluth exists in a perpetual state of boozy disapproval and insatiable greed. This cunning grandma stops at nothing to gain the upper hand in her family, including scheming against her children, pitting them against each other, and even roping her grandchildren into her schemes – all of which she does while imbibing. Between her affair with her husband’s twin brother, her scathing one-liners, and her ongoing feud with Lucille Two, we can’t help but like – or at least, be wildly entertained by – her!

Do you agree with our list? Who is your favorite TV grandmother? For more entertaining Top 10s published every day, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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